Becoming George Sand | Rosalind Brackenbury

Unconditional love.

Maria – selfish, expecting unconditional love from her husband and children even though she’s having an affair that will tear their family apart. She justifies her behaviour at every turn but struggles to be responsible for the way things turn out.

She hopes that future generations will understand and accept that it’s possible to love two men and for these two men to have no “connection” (and therefore no reason to feel hurt) because the love she has for them is so different!

I’m not sure that future generations will understand betrayal, dishonesty, unfaithfulness and irresponsibility any differently that we do now! I’m not sure why Maria thinks this kind of behaviour will ever be considered okay. We might understand Maria’s particular motivations, but I doubt that we can ever admire her or like her.

Even in George Sands’ time this type of behaviour was not considered honorable (even though Maria believes it was more accepted as a common practice and therefore okay).

Sands’ life reads as being very unhappy and difficult. She had a desperate need to be needed. As a result, Sand got entangled in inappropriate relationships with the predictable results of alienating the ones she wanted to love her.

I felt very annoyed with this book (although not enough to stop reading) and was taking a dislike against the author as well, until page 221.

Maria complains to her friend, “And what I long for – this may sound stupid – is for someone to just be there. To love me whatever I do.”

Her friend responds firmly, “Love like that is for babies. You can’t be loved whatever you do. You have to be someone good, to be loved. People can’t just love you for existing.”

“Hmmm. Well maybe. You don’t believe in unconditional love?”

“Yes I do, but it’s for babies. You have to be worthy of love”

Thank god! Someone finally gets it!

I was curious about my strong reaction to Becoming George Sand and Maria in particluar. Loyalty, honesty and faithfulness are very important character traits to me so Maria was never going to be a kindred spirit. But I was disappointed with George Sand as portrayed in this book. I enjoy her writing and have always wanted to know more…now I’m not so sure.

Maria Jameson is having an affair—a passionate, lifechanging affair. She asks: Is it possible to love two men at once? Must this new romance mean an end to love with her husband?

For answers, she reaches across the centuries to George Sand, the maverick French novelist who took many lovers. Immersing herself in the life of this revolutionary woman, Maria struggles with the choices women make and wonders if women in the nineteenth century might have been more free, in some ways, than their twenty-first-century counterparts.

Here, Rosalind Brackenbury creates a beautiful portrait of the ways in which women are connected across history. Two narratives delicately intertwine—following George through her affair with Frederic Chopin, following Maria through her affair with an Irish professor—and bring us a novel that explores the personal and the historical, the demands of self and the mysteries of the heart. Sharply insightful, Becoming George Sand asks how we make our lives feel vibrant while still acknowledging the gifts of our pasts, and challenges our understanding of love in all its forms—sparkling and new, mature, rekindled, and renewed.

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